The Shackled Scribes – Lars Teeney

Summary

Futharkia is a city built upon the layout of an ancient rune shape, and a foundation of slavery. The Broxanians have been enslaved by the Olgoikhorkian Masters to exploit the Broxanian talent for rune-scribing. In exchange, the rune-scribes are compensated with the sweet, golden liquid, Ichor, that the giant worm-like Olgoikhorkians secrete from their glands. The Ichor also happens to be highly addictive and psychoactive. The system has worked for millennia.

However, the Great Fern Jungle that surrounds Futharkia is dying, being bleached white by some unseen force. Coupled with the fact that the simian-like Fern Lice have been hunted to near extinction to provide for Futharkia’s ever-increasing demand for food, Futharkia’s ecosystem is near collapse. It is amid this setting that Cyesko Limariar, an aging rune-scribe makes one last attempt at greatness to lift himself out of poverty, even if by fraudulent means.

Characters

I am going to start by saying some of the names in here were freakishly long (just look at the summary) and I had to glaze over them throughout the book. Eventually most of them got nicknames. Cyesko is supposed to be an unredeemable character, so he stayed true to form throughout the book. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this as much if it wasn’t for Tialina. Her character really saved the book for me. Plus the Olgos (my nickname for Olgoikhorkians) were pretty unique and they were vividly portrayed to the point of disgust – but they were exactly like masters lording over slaves. It was really well done.

Plot

Interesting premise that went a little haywire from time to time. The one thing I really liked about this book was the idea that the conquerors get to write history and thus the history books. This was a central theme to the book. Other awesome themes too, like people being slaves to their addictions and the space travel through wormholes. There is storyline there, throughout the book, but it is just plain weird. Also the author doesn’t try to explain all the time what is going on or why…nor does he explain everything that happened (Cyesko’s dream).

Overall

I had a really rough start with this book. The copy I received had a section from another chapter accidently inserted into the first page of the first chapter. I was completely lost as to what was happening because of this mishap. It took quite a while for me to get a rhythm going after that happened. The writing was decent but more than once I wasn’t sure what was happening or what everything looked like. I have a robust imagination but even I had to go back sometimes and reread to see what I had missed. The Imps are eventually really clearly described and once you get it, it was awesome. That being said about half way through I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know the ending! It had mind blowing moments that made the book seem so real…just not all the time; so pretty brilliant world-building over all. Also, as a warning the ending is a bit anti-climactic.

Rating

3 stars

I liked most of it, despite its weirdness, but the ending really wasn’t satisfactory (for many reasons). So in the end it was just okay. If you like weird fantasy novels where the main characters are aliens – this book is so for you!!

I received a copy from the author in exchange of an honest review.

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Xan and Ink by Zak Zyz

Summary

Banished from their homeland, two disgraced brothers, a fanatical priest and an escaped slave who venture into the foreboding Kalparcimex, an uncharted jungle teeming with an incredible variety of wondrous and murderous insects. When the legendary ranger Xan refuses to help the adventurers on their quest for redemption, they enter into an ill-advised pact with Ink, a cursed sorceress who stains everything she touches. Caught in the conflict between the two powerful figures, the four banished heroes must confront their darkest desires to escape the Kalparcimex!

Characters

Super unique characters. Just from the dialogue you could pick out who was who. Each is likable and not in their own way. I personally loved the story between Ink and Xan better. Like two superpowers fighting but it was more a battle of wills. However, the hapless 4 were just as interesting – the brothers very well tied together. Sandros with all his flaws a force to be reckoned with. Something to be aware of is the shift in POV – it is a little jerky and unexpected at times.

Plot

Let me start by saying, this is a weird book. Weird but oddly good. Very unique – particularly the Kalparcimex. Although some of the plot felt inevitable and predictable, it was not all predictable. Sometimes I wasn’t 100% sure what was going to happen, and one story line I didn’t see coming at all. This is for sure an adult book, from the language, to the violence and gore, to the explicit scenes.

Overall

Despite its weirdness, adult content, and a somewhat non-ending ending, it was very good. The writing was very easy to follow, and if you weren’t interested in getting to know the characters until later, perfect. There is lots of action with character development peppered throughout the book. This is like a fine wine, some people will love it, some will hate it but it is still worth trying. The Kalparcimex is awesome – giant insects!

It starts off a little rocky, there are parts that leave one wanting, but once Ink enters I really started to love the book. The sorceress adds a complexity to all the characters – from Xan to Sandros. Once she enters that is when things get really interesting! There are a few plot twists – some of which are hinted out subtly and some a little more openly. Also some well written sex scenes.

Despite everything I liked about this book there was something missing. It took me a while to put my finger on it. I thought it was the non-ending at first because I only like books that stand alone – as stated on my review policy and this was pitched to me as standalone – but that wasn’t the only problem. There was something else that was making me just not love it. I realized the author keeps too much hidden about the characters. The reason I liked Ink so much was because we get information about her – she is unique and we get some history on her so we can connect with her. I get having mysterious characters, but there is a fine line between mysterious and flat.

Rating

4 Stars

I liked it! Unique story, great actions scenes, but this does not stand alone and it needs a little more character development. Don’t get me wrong, love the characters! I’m actually more upset at how much is left unanswered and kept hidden, which makes this book feel incomplete. Beware of an ambiguous ending but worth the read!